Archive for Elizabeth of York
“Our first-born is the greatest ass, the greatest liar, the greatest canaille, and the greatest beast in the whole world and we heartily wish he was out of it.”
Whew, tell us how you really feel about your son, George II! Two hundred years post-Tudor, the Hanoverians were famous for poor father-son relations, but George II’s feelings toward his son (who died before he could become George III, so it went to his own boy) were probably the most extreme. Victoria’s male successors weren’t about to win any father-son awards, either. And although Henry VIII was very proud of his intelligent and talented children, we see how he used the girls in a genetic shuffleboard when it came to the succession, and famously obsessed over the XY chromosome.
Under the crown, children were primarily potential heirs and/or devices to marry into other royal families. Most royals did not have hands-on parenting experience either, as their kids were raised by nannies, and even breastfed via a wet-nurse. No attachment parenting for them! (And I suspect no “mommy wars,” either.)
Regardless of norms in royal parenting, it’s a good weekend* to hail those women who carried and gave birth to some of the biggest names in history. Let’s have a roll call of prominent Tudor moms…
- Lady Margaret Beaufort (mom to Henry VII)
- Elizabeth of York (mom to Henry VIII)
- Catherine of Aragon (mom to Mary I)
- Anne Boleyn (mom to Elizabeth I)
- Jane Seymour (mom to Edward VI)
- Mary de Guise (mom to Mary Queen of Scots)
- Lady Francis Brandon (mom to Lady Jane Grey)
These moms may not have received macaroni necklaces made with sticky fingers, but I suppose “look at me, Mom, I’m the ruler of the whole country” had a certain caché.
(* Mother’s Day is this Sunday, 9 May, in the U.S. Mothering Sunday in the U.K. is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent; this year that date was 14 March.)
In the Valentine’s Day poll below, Henry VIII’s first three wives seem to be in the strongest race for queen of Henry’s heart. Apparently, it was all downhill after Jane Seymour.
But when we think “Queen of Hearts” in a traditional deck of cards, who’s that girl? Popular belief is that the queen of hearts is none other than Elizabeth of York, the true love of Tudor dynasty founder Henry VII. What with her Tudor-era headdress and the Tudor rose in her hand, it’s a convincing argument if you ask me.
Someone says “Elizabeth” and all Tudorphiles think of that marvellous ginger monarch with the cupcake-paper neckruff. Today we remember Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII’s mother (and that marvellous ginger monarch’s granny) who died on this date in 1503.
Elizabeth of York helped to wrap up the Wars of the Roses when Henry Tudor (who defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field) took for himself the throne of England and the pretty girl on the enemy’s side. It worked like this:
- The Wars of the Roses pitted the Lancasters against the Yorks. They were two parts of the same family but had been openly fighting since 1459.
- It is soo uncomfortable to be at family events when there’s fighting, right? Right. In this corner, Henry Tudor (Lancaster) killed Richard III (York) in battle, and married the gal in that corner, Elizabeth of York. One big happy family again!
Well, not right away. But the marriage of Henry (now Henry VII) and Liz of York (planned by their mothers!) eventually brought peace to the royals once again. Liz was known to be a real sweetie, with lovely features to match her lovely heart. She and Henry VII had six children and were crushed when their oldest, Arthur, died. However, they moved to add one more little one to their family.
The wee one was a girl, named Katherine, who died the day she was born. Nine days later (on her own birthday, 11 February) the sweet and beautiful queen died of that post-partum infection which claimed so many moms at that time. Her surviving children and grandchildren would knock English history out of the park for the next 100 years.
Get ready, because this is a particularly dark week in Tudor history. Today is the anniversary of Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution in 1587. It was a grisly affair, as it took more than one whack to do away with the poor girl.
On Wednesday the 10th, we have the murder anniversary of her husband (also her first cousin), Lord Darnley, in 1567. That same date marks the 1542 imprisonment of pathetic and misunderstood Kitty Howard.
Thursday the 11th marks the day Elizabeth of York died in 1503. The woman who gave birth to our tubby, turkey-leg eating womanizer fell victim to infection after having Henry’s little sister and died on her own birthday.
On Friday 12th we have the 1554 execution anniversary of poor nine-days-queen Lady Jane Grey, and her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley. And we continue the Headless Chronicles on Saturday the 13th, as we remember that day in 1542 when Kitty Howard and Jane Boleyn (Anne’s sister-in-law) were sent to the chopping block.
Whew! It’s getting bloodier than a Martin Scorcese movie. Stick around if you’re not the squeamish type.